Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tithe book transcription for Skull is now online

Skull transcription is finally online. This has been very difficult to do and there will no doubt be many errors. Note that Skibbereen Heritage has a tithe book database for the same area online, and there are some differences with what is in their database.

Transcriptions for the area are available here:
Skibbereen area transcriptions

To submit a correction, please use this link:
Submit a correction

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Youngs of North Street, Skibbereen

Tessie Young was a pharmacist on North Street. My mother and her siblings were told by Granddad that Tessie was Granddad's "cousin." Of course, we don't know exactly how.

It was this little genealogy tidbit I heard from my aunt that confirmed for me that Skibbereen Heritage pinpointed Granddad's McCarthy-Sowney line: that of Charles McCarthy and Margaret Young of Lissane. Their son, Cornelius (1824-1900) was Granddad's grandfather.

Now I need to fill in the gap in between Margaret Young McCarthy, living in the early 1800's, and Tessie Young (1889-1964).

In the 1901 census, Tessie's mother, Ellen, was widowed. The oldest child listed, Mary, was 23. Tessie was 11.

Tessie was born in 1889. Her parents were William Young, a North Street shopkeeper, and Ellen Hurley. (Yes, Ellen was one of the Coolnagarrane Hurleys. That's another story.)

William died in 1897 at age 58. That would put his birth year around 1839.

Working backwards, William Young and Ellen Hurley married in 1875. His father is listed as John Young and both father and son are listed as shoemakers.

In Griffith's Valuation, there is a John Young listed in Coronea, Skibbereen, but no further information about occupation is given.

There is a John Young, North Street, Boot and Shoemaker, listed in Slater's 1846 commercial directory.

There is a William Young listed in the Abbeystrowry Tithe Applotment in Coronea in 1835. Update: In the Creagh Tithe Applotment from 1831, there is a John Young on North Street.

Pigot's Commercial Directory of 1824 lists a Thomas Young, saddler, in Bridgetown. There are no Youngs on North Street.

Elsewhere in the Tithe Applotment books are Youngs in Killaveenoge, Rearahinagh, Derreeny, Derryclough, and Driminidy.

Looking at the online church records, I found one William Young in Skibbereen in 1837, whose father was John Young and whose mother was Mary Collins. Other children of this couple that pop up are Thomas 1832, Joanna 1834, and James 1843. No residence is given on any of these baptism records. If John Young named Thomas after his father, perhaps Thomas the saddler is the next one up the ancestry ladder.

Unfortunately, that's the end of the rope. To find John Young who had a son Thomas in 1832, I would have to assume that John was born before about 1812, and the records just don't go back that far.

Now I have the same problem that every researcher out there has. How do I link these leather workers, shopkeepers, and pharmacists on North Street to Margaret Young McCarthy out in rural Lissane?

Found: missing great-great grandmother's baptism record

Good luck if you are trying to find an ancestor whose name is like Mary McCarthy. Mary ended up being a tough research problem at BOTH ends of her life. I had to write to Ireland GRO several times for her death record. If you have not read my prior post about the mistakes I made looking for that death record, you can read all about that experience here.

When I was researching McCarthys in Garryglass, Drinagh, Skibbereen Heritage couldn't originally find her record. I simply had it on faith in what my aunts were telling me that Mary McCarthy was the aunt of a man named Daniel McCarthy, who was a rather well-known schoolmaster in Drinagh.

Mary McCarthy is not in the index of the online church records. So this morning I started visually inspecting the Drimoleague & Drinagh images starting around 1835. I noticed that a number of these images have the "feature" of dark edges and a smudgey black bottom that makes some records unreadable. I immediately suspected that Mary McCarthy's baptism record was buried under such a smudge spot.

Finally, I found something in 1838. I think this is her. Only the name of her mother (Ellen Connolly), the name of the baptism sponsors, and the residence (Garryglass) are visible.

I believe there was another Ellen Connolly in Garryglass, married to somebody named Hayes. For now, I will take it on faith that this record is that of Mary McCarthy.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

DNA Testing for Genealogy

This is a presentation I am giving Sunday at the meeting of the British Isles Family History Society in Los Angeles on using autosomal DNA as a nice complement to your traditional genealogy research:

Guiding Your Ancestral Search with Autosomal DNA Testing

Friday, October 14, 2011

reading the online church records

I get the feeling that a few people are frustrated searching the online church records so I thought I would point out a few things.

1) You can search with wildcard character in the first name field, within limits.

e.g., Cat* will match on Catherine Cathe Cate etc.

2) The first name field also accepts large boolean expressions. For example to search for an ancestor named Kate I would enter in the field:

(Cathe or Cath or Cats or Catha or Cathn or Cathne or Cate or Cat or Catherine or Catharine or Catherina or Catharina or Kath or Katherine or Kate or Katy or Katty or Kitty or Cotturim or Catharinam)

This might turn up a few more possibilities for you.

3) At first I thought the union of two wildcards would not work, but I just now got it to work:

(Hum* or Um*) will search for first name Humphrey.

My list of boolean expressions is growing steadily so I will post it up on my website. You can copy and paste these expressions into first name fields.


4) Some of the indexing is atrocious and causes more problems. Think about how your ancestor's name might have been misindexed. For example, I found some confusion between Humphry/Morty. I then thought Humphry could have been misindexed as Murphy and thus found more men named Humphry.  Last night I found a Humphrey indexed as "Helen."  I am not joking.  Remember, these records were indexed by people who did not necessarily know the families in the locality you are searching.

Other pairs that cause confusion: L- versus S-  e.g., Louney versus Souney, Lantry versus Santry.  L---y could be Leary or Loony.   P- and B- can be confused.

It almost goes without saying that if your name is Regan or Reagan you must check Ryan and vice versa.

5) Surnames are not as automatically cross-referenced as I would like. I cannot get boolean expressions to match for surnames but wildcards seem to work.  Col* will turn up Collins, Coleman, etc.

6) Some townland names are hardly recognizable any more or grossly misspelled/misunderstood. I hope you are equipped with a good gazetteer or atlas or map.  Once you crack a few mistranscribed townlands, the records will get easier to read.

seanruad.com and logainm.ie are good for looking up locations.

7) I repeat, look at the images. Get your eyes acclimated to the syntax of the church records. Look at lots of records.

My husband joked that there were a lot of women named "Hillary" in Ireland when what we were looking at was a phrase starting with  "& Mary " .

Here's another example:
[child's Christian name] of [father's name] & [mother's name]
The "of" gets mistaken as a final "h" on the child's name - then the child's name may be transcribed incorrectly as Jeremiah or Johannah or something that ends with h.

Similarly, the abbreviation Pr (presence of) has been misread as the initial R.

8) Some questions have been raised about missing records.  For gaps in records, drill down to the individual RC parish information at the Irish times website.  

9) Some parishes have records that start relatively late and some information remains forever lost.  There are multiple Skibbereen parish entities. From my earlier post - according to Skibbereen Heritage, Skibbereen & Rath were one parish until 1851. What is listed as Creagh & Sullon are the baptism records of this combined parish and then Skibbereen after 1851. Baptism and marriage records of Rath post 1851 are under Rath & Islands. Skibbereen & Rath start listing marriages in 1837.

10) If you think a record ought to be there and it isn't, make sure you review your assumptions about where your ancestors were at a given point in time and you have some other proof or basis for assuming they were in a specific location.

11) Priests transposed names into the wrong fields, and indexers may have picked up names off what is immediately preceding a record.  There are all sorts of ways errors can be made.

12) The date in the index can be off.  Check the entire page for the record, not just under the date the record is indexed by.

I have gotten a few date transpose errors from what I have obtained from other means.

13) Watch out for records that have been erroneously overwritten by a well-meaning transcriber from times past.  An overwritten record in my Grandmom's family has been a major cause of confusion in my family for literally decades; there is something screwy about the way it is indexed at Skibbereen Heritage; and it has even caused confusion for other researchers outside the family.  Daniel was overwritten with Denis.  As a result, some in my family weren't sure what the first name of Grandmom's grandfather was.


I'm still working on finding everything online that Skibbereen Heritage has found for me and I haven't come close to finding everything yet.

Happy hunting.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Too many Humphreys

So the big bombshell coming out of the release of additional Cork church records is that in my Granddad's side of the family there were multiple Humphreys in the Skibbereen area in the 1820's - 1840's. The majority of Humphrey Collins occurrences are out of Caheragh RC parish.

This really shouldn't be a surprise given that my uncle Humpsey had three similarly-named cousins of the same generation in school with him at the same time.

Before I get into searching for Humphrey Collinses in Caheragh, I thought I would mention this tip about searching the church records. The first name field can take a large boolean expression or a wild card - within limits.

If you want to search for John, enter: (Jn or Jno or John or Jon or Johannes or Joannes or Joannim or Johannam)

If you want to search for men named Morty, you can enter Mor*.

As far as I can tell, the first name field does not take a union of two wild card results. For example, if I want to search Hum* or Um* as a boolean expression, it doesn't work that way; however (Hum* or Ump*), with a minimum of three letters, may work.

Now the problem with Humphrey is that name - really any name - can be mistranscribed. I suspect a Morty Collins is really a Humphrey, and I also found a few occurrences of Murphy Collinses who are Humphreys.

When Skibbereen Heritage originally looked for my gg-grandfather Michael Collins, born about 1822, they were unable to locate a baptism record for a Michael son of Humphrey Collins and Johanna Barnane. And they probably searched Drimoleague & Drinagh as well. Humphrey and Johanna were married in early 1820 - though that marriage record has its problems - and the first child Catherine was born in December of that year - and that birth record has a few problems too. Then nothing until son John was born 1824.

So there is certainly a convenient slot for my gg-grandfather, whose birth year I estimated from the 1901 census. If he and his wife Ellen Driscoll were "old school" in the way they named their children, their first daughter might have been named after the paternal grandmother. That also fits, as daughter Johanna was born 1856. Ellen's mother was Margaret Loony.

Then the additional church records came online and I took a shot at searching for a baptism record for Michael and found one - born to a Humphry Collins and Ellen Sweeny in September 1822, and it looks like they were staying in Blue Hill (Knockgorm) at the time.

I went to Skibb Heritage and was told their records had that indexed as Morty. So I went on a fishing expedition and collected several handwriting samples and compared them. In the image below, the entry labeled 1822 in the left column was indexed as Morty at Skibb Heritage and Umpy on the church record site. The rest in the left column are indexed at the church record site as Humphry, Umpy, or Umphry or similar. The entries in the right-hand side are from Morty Hourihanes in Caheragh about the same time (so presumably handwritten by the same priests).

I think Morty is Umpy. And I can't dismiss this as some fluke or mistake. There is no other Michael born to a Humphry Collins. A Catherine Sweeny showed up at the wedding of Michael Collins and Ellen Driscoll in 1854. In fact, that Catherine Sweeny may have married just five days before to a Hourihane from Tooreen. Could Catherine Sweeny have been a cousin or aunt to Michael?

And then there's my DNA. I have a decent Family Finder match to somebody with Sweeny in his list of names. So far I haven't heard anything in response to my inquiries.

The online records have just opened up a whole new set of questions. There are no more records for Ellen Sweeny with this Morty/Umpy Collins. However, there is an Ellen Sweeny with a Denis Collins in Knockgorm shortly after, and they had several children.

The imagination can run wild here. I have not seen church records state whether parents are dead or alive. Could Morty/Umpy have been deceased and could Ellen Sweeny have remarried?

To get a better handle on the Humphrey Collinses running around, I decided to construct a timeline of sorts:

Where's Humphrey Collins?

DateRC ParishEventDescriptionSpouse/companion
1820-Feb-15D & DmarriageHumphrey Collins & "Mary" Bernard(1)
1820-Jul-12CaheraghbaptismAnne Barrettsponsor Humphry Collins
1820-Dec-02CaheraghbaptismCatherine Collinsparents Humphry Collins(2) Johanna Bernard
1820-Dec-17CaheraghbaptismCornelius KeohaneHumphry Collins sponsor
1822-Sep-08CaheraghbaptismMichael Collinsparents Humphrey Collins(3), Ellen Sweeny
1824-May-18CaheraghbaptismJohn Collinsparents Humphry Collins, Johanna Barnane
1826-Feb-04CaheraghmarriageCharles Brien & Mary CollinsHumphry Collins & Mary Brien witness
1827-Sep-02CaheraghbaptismMary Collinsparents Humphry Collins, Johanna Barnane
1828-Sep-20D & DbaptismJoan Manganmother Mary Collins, Humphry Collins sponsor
1829-Dec-13CaheraghbaptismNory Collinsparents Humphry Collins, Johanna Barnane
1830-Mar-19CaheraghbaptismPat CrimeenHumphry Collins sponsor
1830-Oct-01CaheraghbaptismCatherine MinihaneHumphry Collins sponsor
1831-Aug-01CaheraghbaptismHumphrey Collinsparents Michael Collins & Mary Donovan
1831-Aug-24CaheraghbaptismDenis CarthyHumphry Collins sponsor
1832-Jan-20CaheraghbaptismBridget BaryUmphy Collins sponsor
1833-Feb-19CaheraghmarriageJohn Casey & Catherine BurkeHumphry & Michael Collins witness
1833-Feb-19D & DmarriageCornelius Hourihan & Honora CaseyHumphry Collins witness
1833-Aug-07CaheraghbaptismJames Collinsparents Humphry Collins, Johanna Barnane
1833-Oct-24CaheraghbaptismJerry CoakleyHumphry Collins sponsor
1835-Dec-07CaheraghbaptismJohanna Collinsparents Humphry Collins, Johanna Barnane
1836-Dec-27SkibbereenbaptismJohn Collinsparents Humphry Collins, Mary Galvin
1838-Sep-16SkibbereenbaptismMargaret Collinsparents Humphry Collins, Mary Galvin
1839-Feb-05Skibb & RathmarriageJohn Collins & Margaret DonovanHumphry Collins witness
1839-Mar-14CaheraghbaptismPat Collinsparents Humphry Collins, Ja(o)ne Barrett(4)
1840-Mar-25CaheraghbaptismPat CoaklyHumphrey Collins sponsor
1841-Jan-19SkibbereenbaptismMary Collinsparents Humphry Collins, Mary Brien
1843-Apr-02SkibbereenbaptismJohanna Collinsparents Humphry Collins, Mary Brien
1845-Oct-23SkibbereenbaptismJerry Collinsparents Humphry Collins, Mary Collins
1846-JanCaheraghbaptismPat Cadigansponsors Humphry Collins, Johanna Bernard(5)
1851-Mar-01CaheraghmarriageCatherine Collins & Denis DonovanHumphry Collins & Honora Collins witness
1854-Feb-28CaheraghmarriageMichael Collins & Ellen DriscollHumphrey Collins, Catherine Sweeny witness
1858-Jan-23CaheraghmarriageJohn Collins & Ellen McCarthyHumphry Collins witness
1858-Jan-29CaheraghbaptismHumphry CollinsHumphry Collins sponsor; Michael Collins & Ellen Driscoll parents
1858-Nov-19CaheraghbaptismHumphry(7) CollinsJohn Collins & Ellen McCarthy parents
1861-Aug-24CaheraghbaptismHumphrey(8) CollinsDenis Collins & Margaret Mahony parents
1862-Mar-04Skib & RathmarriageJames Collins & Catherine DriscollHumphry Collins witness
1863-Apr-22KilmacabeabaptismHumphry Collinsson of a Jerry?
1873-Apr-17CaheraghdeathHumphrey Collins, age 88Humphrey Collins present at death (left mark)
1873-May-28CaheraghbaptismTimothy CollinsHumphry Collins sponsor
1875-Nov-07D&DbaptismHumphry Collins(6)parents Patrick Collins,Catherine Collins
1879-May-14SkibbereenbaptismDenis CollinsHumphrey Collins, sponsor

  • 1 - Skibb Heritage was of the opinion the priest made an error and this should have been Johanna.
  • 2 - Another error - father is recorded as John and baptism sponsor Humphry.
  • 3 - Probably my direct ancestral line.
  • 4 - There is no confusion between Barrett and Barnane. The handwriting of Barrett is clear, and there were Barretts in Lissane. However, I haven't dug up a marriage record for a Humphrey Collins and a Jane/Joan Barrett, which makes me wonder if the priest was hard of hearing or what!
  • 5 - Johanna Barnane was alive as late as 1846, which means that her husband couldn't have been married to Mary Galvin or Brien at the same time - therefore there was at least one other Humphry!
  • 6 - Indexed as Helen!
  • 7 - Whoever indexed this entry gave up entirely on the first name and just left it blank.
  • 8 - The father Denis *could* have been the son of Michael Collins and Mary Donovan of Lissane Lower. This couple had a son named Humphrey in 1831. But there is no baptism record of Denis.

I can't figure out what was going on in 1833. Humphry went to two different Casey weddings on the same day?!? In fact his calendar was so full in 1833 it makes me wonder if he had time to farm.

Caheragh records start in mid-1818; Drimoleague & Drinagh mid-1817. Now, what about Skibbereen records? There are multiple Skibbereen parish entities. According to Skibbereen Heritage, Skibbereen & Rath were one parish until 1851. What is listed as Creagh & Sullon are the baptism records of this combined parish and then Skibbereen after 1851. Baptism and marriage records of Rath post 1851 are under Rath & Islands. Skibbereen & Rath start listing marriages in 1837.

Given that Mary Galvin and Mary Brien were baptizing their children in Skibbereen and not Caheragh, this information leads me to conclude that their marriage records fall out of range, so that information is forever lost.

I am curious about the names Galvin and Mangane. There are a few Galvins here and there. Mangane is rather uncommon. I get the feeling these names could be agnomens for another name. Brien, perhaps?

Ultimately, I am going to have to view every single image to decide for myself if the transcriptions are correct and if my assumptions are correct.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Some bingos and a bombshell

Today the government of Ireland released the remainder of what it had intended to release of the south Cork church records. Thanks to this effort I have new insights on my Grandmom's Collinses, I believe I have a more conclusive link to the Mahonys in Bredagh, and I have discovered a bombshell in the Humphrey Collinses of Lissane, which really is just another insight.

First, some words about these church records. I can now better understand the delay for releasing them. The illegibility of some of these records made indexing and computerization very difficult, and no doubt there are substantial errors. In my own family I have discovered a number of errors already.  Therefore, I encourage anybody reading this to take the time to browse the records, and to be very flexible with your searches. When new information becomes available one has to be ready to throw out some old assumptions. 

Second, here's a little trick when searching for Christian names in the church records. You can build a search string as a large boolean expression. For example, to search for a woman named Catherine Neil, enter the following string into the name field:

(Cathe or Cath or Catherine or Catharine or Kath or Katherine or Kate or Kattie or Katy or Katty) Neil

The software engine is normally pretty good at cross-indexing surname variants. But not always. Again, I highly recommend browsing. And take a good look at the images, because there could be errors in the index. One day while browsing Skibbereen I noticed somebody with the surname Neil with something like Sheehy appended to it, as if Sheehy were a local nickname. That wasn't in the text index.  You just never know what you'll find.

If you are researching south Cork like I am, read Nora Hickey's article,  "What's in a Name?"  Unfortunately, the website originally hosting this article has taken it offline, and you will be directed to the Internet archive.  When you get to the archive, make a backup copy of it on your own computer to reference. 

The article talks about some of the odd south Cork locality-specific secondary names you may be struggling with while researching your ancestry.

Thank God these records are finally online.  It is better to have these illegible records with their dark smudgy illegible handwriting and indexing errors than to not have them at all. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Kilmeen Tithe Applotment Transcription now online

A first draft transcription of the tithe applotment of Kilmeen is now online here.

Tithe Applotment of Kilmeen

An index for this transcription is here.

Kilmeen TA index

Please submit corrections/additional info here

Additions and corrections

More Skibbereen area TA transcriptions can be found here.

Skibbereen area TA transcriptions

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Kilcoe Tithe Applotment Transcription now online

A first draft transcription of the tithe applotment of Kilcoe is now online here.

Tithe Applotment of Kilcoe

An index for this transcription is here.

Kilcoe TA index

Please submit corrections/additional info here

Additions and corrections

More Skibbereen area TA transcriptions can be found here.

Skibbereen area TA transcriptions

Friday, August 26, 2011

Using Irish newspapers for inquest records

As some visitors may recall, I ran into an insurmountable brick wall in my family history work researching a girl who was possibly related to my great-great-grandmother Ellen Driscoll Collins.  Noria Driscoll was staying with her in the 1901 census in Lower Lissane:

When I first started investigating the link between Noria Driscoll and Ellen Driscoll Collins, I was researching Ellen Driscoll and thought that Noria could have been a niece. Her relationship to Ellen Driscoll Collins was not as I originally thought.  It turns out the census record is not entirely accurate.  Noria is listed as a niece to the head of household when she was in fact a granddaughter.  On this census record, her grandfather was Michael Collins, her grandmother was Ellen Driscoll Collins, her uncle was Michael Collins, and her aunt was Noria Collins. 

Through a process of elimination using civil registration birth records from around 1890 plus the 1901 census, I developed a hypothesis that Noria was from Currabeg, a townland in Castlehaven parish. The brick wall exists because I have been unable to locate her parents' marriage record or the death record of her mother, whom apparently died prior to the 1901 census.

Subsequent research showed that Noria drowned in February 1903, with the place of death noted as Lissane.  The death record only listed the cause of death, the coroner and the date of the inquest, but there was no further information. 

Skibbereen Southern Star news archives are online. I was unable to find any further information about her tragic death.  I sent an email to the National Archives inquiring about the availability of inquest records for County Cork and did not hear back.

On one genealogy forum I visit regularly, another researcher asked a similar question, and I told him of my brick wall and how I ran into a dead-end asking about inquest records at the National Library.  "JB" as I shall call him, was in Louth, and was planning to travel to Dublin for some sleuthing. Wisely, he decided to hit the newspapers.

JB emailed me telling me of his plans to go to Dublin and asked for the details of the inquest record I was seeking, which I thought was really kind.  I had reached a point that I was totally annoyed with researching this family, and I was annoyed with the Southern Star for not reporting the drowning (yes - not logical). The S.S. noted other drownings about the same time, therefore in my frustration I had rationalized that because she was a schoolgirl, her death didn't merit any newspaper's attention. To validate my conclusion I had also searched the papers at irishnewsarchives.com and even the Irish Times archives, and still did not come up with anything.

Because I really didn't think JB would find anything, it didn't even occur to me to mention the existence of the Skibbereen Eagle newspaper, which I already knew about. Had I told him of that paper beforehand, I might have saved him about an hour of time at the library. I really didn't want him to spend a lot of time looking for something which I knew "wasn't there."

But JB looked at the County Cork newspapers available and figured out which one to look at. Here is a list of some of the papers available at the National Archives:

Cork Papers at NLI

In addition, Cork City Library has a very good newspaper collection:

Cork City Library Newspaper Archives

When I saw a copy of the story of Noria's drowning sitting in my inbox a few days later I was nothing less than stunned.  JB also found a story referencing the death of one his  relatives who suddenly took ill and died while enroute by ship to Ireland.

There were two valuable lessons we learned from this. JB noted that email to a repository body typically doesn't yield much, but when you go in person and talk to humans the outcome is often very different.  Second, if there was a newspaper covering an area you are interested in at at the right time, then it indeed may give inquest details.  So it can really pay off to wade through the newspapers.

In addition to my extreme gratitude to JB, I also felt vindicated when I read the story of Noria's drowning.  The article confirmed her suspected origins.  The article contained one error, naming her uncle as Michael Driscoll when in fact he was Michael Collins.  (Her father was Michael Driscoll of Currabeg.)  This is why it is so important that when you work on your family tree, you don't stop researching just because a name fills a slot.  All records, whether from newspaper stories, from church records, or from civil registration, are vulnerable to errors, and so you must continue collecting evidence and see where the weight of that evidence falls.

This is probably about where Noria fell in the river. Even in *good* weather, that water looks terribly busy... map

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Castlehaven and Myross Tithe Applotment transcriptions are available

Tithe applotment transcriptions for Castlehaven and for Myross are now available online.  These are first drafts only, they have not been processed with corrections yet.

You can access the Skibbereen area transcriptions here:
Skibbereen tithe applotment transcriptions

Please submit a correction here:  fixit

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tithe Applotment Transcription of Ballymoney civil parish now online

I wasn't planning on doing more transcriptions until I redesigned the indexing of existing TA transcriptions for Cork.  Ballymoney was a bit of a rush job for Dunmanway Historical Society so they will have the data for the summer tourist season.

One problem that I have not resolved - I can't figure out where the enumerations are for Ballineen and for Ballynacarriga.

Ballymoney TA

Skibbereen area TA links

Please submit corrections here

General Cork County TA links

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mahony battle plan

Grandmom's Mahony ancestry is proving to be the most challenging to pin down, as no relatives know anything about them. The only clue I have is that the same Mahony names showing up on marriage and baptism records for Grandmom's family in Cullomane East also show up on marriage and baptism records for a branch of Granddad's family in Lissane.  That, and that both the Margaret Mahony = Denis Collins marriage out of Lissane and the Mary Mahony = Daniel Collins marriage out of Cullomane actually took place in Drimoleague & Drinagh R.C. parish, possibly the home parish of the brides.  From these coincidences I think Mary and Margaret were likely sisters.

Drimoleague & Drinagh, though, is so intertwined with Caheragh, that I am starting to think I cannot rule Caheragh out.  It isn't outside the realm of possibility that a bride was living with somebody besides her immediate family, for instance, an uncle's family. 

Skibbereen Heritage has done some preliminary searches for me.  From what they have done I have managed to eliminate some possibilities.  A family with names Cain, Denis, Daniel, Timothy, Mary, Margaret, and Catherine simply doesn't look like a family with names William and Ann. So I've done some elimination just based on name resemblance.   The non-familiar names also tended to be further away (Lettergorman).

The family out of Bredagh remains the best contender, though a new plot element landed in my lap this morning.  A family in Drimoleague I have not considered, Michael Mahony = Mary Henning of Drimoleague, had a son named Daniel.  Ordinarily I would not pay attention to this record, except that one of my Family Finder DNA matches has the mother's surname as his own surname.

As I have accumulated Mahony data over the two years I have been doing research, I have constructed data chains from baptismal records (if I have them); tithe applotment; griffiths; and then civil registration, 1901 and 1911 censuses. 

I am interested in marriages in the early years of registration, as these records are of events for people whose births were outside the reach of civil registration but whose parent may have been recorded in tithe applotment or Griffiths.  The marriage records will list the groom's father's name, which is helpful. The problem with residence on a marriage record, though, is that the residence listed is not necessarily where somebody was born and grew up or subsequently ended up living.  Farm laborers could have moved around to different farms. 

Similarly, death records of those born before civil registration can be especially useful.  I focus more on the older people, who obviously had time to marry and produce a family.  The death records help me narrow down the point in time I might find that person in a baptismal record.  Sometimes you get lucky on a death record, if the informant was a relative and stated where he or she lived.  I've also gotten lucky even on infant death records, when the informant identified himself as an uncle.

Birth records help me reconstruct families I see in the censuses. 

In my Mahony Excel workbook, my death spreadsheet has 33 references from the online civil registration index, with only 13 references resolved.  The marriage spreadsheet has 28 index references on it with only four of them resolved.  I even have 21 indexes references on a birth spreadsheet for 1864-1870 that would be worth looking at to eliminate them.

It is worth looking at the Ireland special collections at Family Search online to see if I can eliminate anybody on the worksheets, but those special collections are not exhaustive.  However if I can eliminate a record before ordering the film for it or resorting to ordering it from GRO, all the better.  It saves both time AND money.  For my purposes I will not order any birth records from GRO before 1881, as 1864-1880 films are in the permanent collection at my local Family History Library and are available to me.  Films are available to order for both marriages and deaths 1864-1870.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Collins family tree, version 1.0

Skibbereen Heritage has done a great deal of research for me over the past two months that has answered many questions about my Grandmom's and Granddad's families.

Starting with Granddad, we researched "Part 2" of the Lissane Collinses, with the first part done last year. In the interim, I again hit the census records and civil registration films, and created three key family group sheets out of Lissane. I had these families partially carved out so I was then able to approach Skibbereen Heritage and ask to complete the families. We did -  easily - and I have a flood of new information. John Collins (1824-1882) who was married to Ellen McCarthy and whom I thought was my great-great grandfather's brother now made a case for himself when we found his oldest known son was named Humphrey.

This family is lucky to have had the beacon name "Humphrey Collins", so I went to the Mormon Family Search website and started searching more globally for any Humphrey Collins out of Ireland. I found quite a bit. Some of these Humphreys have yet to be linked definitively to Lissane.

However, there is an amazing story of one Humphrey Collins who emigrated and settled in Newport, Rhode Island. His oldest son was named Dennis. There was a younger son named Humphrey. As I continued to trawl through Family Search, it looked like Humphrey Junior joined the US Navy and was stationed in San Diego. I then found an entry in the Social Security death record index and it turns out Humphrey Junior died in 1977 in the same town I now live in! He was in all likelihood Granddad's third cousin. And my Mom nor anybody else never knew.

I will be spending the coming years filling in more details about this Newport R.I. branch, of course. Apparently emigrant Humphrey came with a number of siblings, who all settled there.

Now for McCarthys. For a long time, it was clear that the Tooreen McCarthys were somehow related to McCarthys in Lissane. We didn't know precisely how. I again made family group sheets out of census, civil registration data, news archives, consulted Griffiths Valuation, tithe applotments for Caheragh and Drimoleague, the 1842 petition to Parliament contesting an election in County Cork, notes from my conversations with my aunt, and correspondence on the Lissane and Tooreen McCarthys.  I hypothesized that the known patriarch in Lissane, Cornelius, was the son of an Andrew since the oldest son was called Andrew. My great-great grandfather Cornelius had seven daughters and no sons, so I didn't have that kind of hint. However, I went back to my aunt, and the first name that popped into her head was a "Charlie C. McCarthy" who was apparently Granddad's cousin. My hypothesis was then that the two patriarch Corneliuses were cousins, the Lissane one was the son of an Andrew, and born a few years earlier than my great-great grandfather, who might have been the son of a Charles. I went to Skibbereen Heritage with that information and we batted 1000. Right on all counts. At least, so far.  I added that caveat because there are other McCarthy families in Lissane whom I don't know about.  There could have been another Andrew, or another Charles.

Coincidentally, around the time Skibb Heritage was researching these McCarthys, the name "Tessie Young" popped into my aunt's head.  Now in all this time that I have discussed family history with her, the name Young has never come up.  But Tessie Young was a chemist (pharmacist) in Skibbereen town.  Mom and all the children used to go into her shop regularly.  Granddad, who walked around with all this family tree information in his head! declared that she was "a cousin."  As it turns out, the mother of my great-great grandfather was one Margaret Young.  In addition there was a Mary Young who was a baptismal sponsor of Bridget McCarthy, Granddad's aunt.  The appearance of these names strengthens the case that we have found the right Charles.

Now for Driscolls. I ran into a solid dead end looking for the family of Noria Driscoll, the girl who drowned. So I had to go to Plan B. And what a great Plan B it turned out to be! The baptismal sponsors of the children of Michael Collins = Ellen Driscoll included an Andrew Maguire and a Johanna Maguire. Around the mid-1800's, the name Maguire was practically non-existent in Skibbereen. But Andrew and Johanna show up in Griffiths Valuation in Garrane, a townland in the extreme southwest corner of Caheragh parish. I don't know how the Maguires got there, as the name wasn't there in the Tithe Applotment. But it practically jumps out of Griffiths. Skibbereen Heritage started looking for Driscolls near Maguires and found some. Daniel Driscoll and Mary Looney had a daughter, Ellen, born 1830, who was probably my great-great-grandmother. That's what I was looking for. It's not an absolutely perfect match, there are some questions. The problem we have is that neither Ellen, nor her sister Mary, who married Andrew Maguire, were known to have a son Daniel, named after their father. But until more information comes to light, that's all I have to go on.

There are other McCarthys through Granddad. The origins of his maternal grandmother, Mary McCarthy, are somewhat more difficult to come by. We know she had some kind of relationship to Daniel McCarthy, the well-known Drinagh schoolteacher, probably aunt-nephew. We searched for Daniel's father Cornelius and found him. Cornelius's parents were Daniel McCarthy Knock and Ellen Connolly. Unfortunately, we could not find Mary's baptismal record. She would have been the youngest child, born 1836 or so.

However, an Ellen Connolly was the baptismal sponsor of Margaret McCarthy (1860) of Tooreen. Margaret was Mary's oldest daughter. That is the only "paper" thread I have linking the two families.

This all gets horribly confusing, as Mary McCarthy had both a brother named Cornelius and a husband Cornelius, and they were both born in 1824.

Skibbereen Heritage is currently looking into the Mahonys on Grandmom's side. This is a tough one. However, there is a rather interesting coincidence that has popped up, and it might lead us to the right Mahonys. The Mahony name recorded as a witness of the wedding of Daniel Collins = Mary Mahony (m. 1845) plus the Mahony names of the baptismal sponsors of the Cullomane Collins children are the same names as Mahonys who show up in one branch of Granddad's Lissane Collinses, that of the family of Denis Collins = Margaret Mahony. It gets even more interesting. There is something screwy about the way the Caheragh records are computerized. Lissane Collinses show up on the computer when looking for Cullomane Collinses, and vice versa. I am trying to guess what could be causing that error.  Did the Caheragh priest get confused seeing the same crowd of Mahonys showing up for all the baptisms?

I am hoping something leaps out, but if not, I'll hit the civil registration films and census records again until I can define more families in the area, then try the search again.

Family trees are data models, which can change.  They are not irrefutable laws of science.  My job is now to continue studying whatever data is available, and continue comparing what I find with my data models.  My second job is to figure out how to properly cite everything I have found

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Kilmacabea Tithe Applotment Transcription now online

A first draft transcription of the tithe applotment of Kilmacabea parish is now online. You may access it and other transcriptions here:

corgken.org TA Transcriptions

Please submit a correction here: Send a fix

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Kilfaughnabeg Tithe Applotment Transcription Now Online

A transcription of the Kilfaughnabeg Tithe Applotment (1829) is now online.

Corrections, annotations, enhancements and improvements to Kilfaughnabeg and all Tithe Applotment transcriptions remain ongoing.

Please submit corrections using this link: corrections.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Transcription of Aghadown Tithe Applotment is now online


Corrections, annotations, enhancements and improvements to Aghadown and all Tithe Applotment transcriptions remain ongoing.

Submit a correction here pretty please:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The drowning of Noria Driscoll, and some huge brick walls

If you have read prior posts, you may recall that my family knows absolutely nothing about our ancestor named Ellen Driscoll, who married Michael Collins of Lissane 28-Feb-1854 in Caheragh RC parish. I wrote about a major lead to her identity in Miss Marple's Guide to Genealogy.

Even though I think I know where the niece Noria Driscoll was from, I ran into rather formidable dead ends trying to find out more about Noria's family. Noria's birth record lists the parents as Johannah Collins and Michael Driscoll. They live in Currabeg (the one at the north end of Castlehaven parish). In the 1901 census record for the Currabeg household, Michael was a widower. To the best that I can tell, the youngest child was born in 1895. Therefore Johannah Collins died between 1895 and the 1901 census. So I should be able to find her death record.

There's a problem. It isn't in the online index. At least so far, I haven't been able to find it.

Is there any way of estimating when Johannah and Michael married? The eldest daughter in the 1901 Currabeg record was Helena, age 19. So maybe the marriage took place in the early 1880's.

Nothing matched in the online civil registration index.

I went to the online church records. Noting that the Castlehaven & Myross records end in 1881 I wasn't sure I would find anything, but I did: a son. Jeremiah was baptized September 1880.

I went back to the online civil registration index to look for Jeremiah Driscoll. He wasn't there in the index either!

At this point I let some time elapse because this problem was starting to drive me a little mad. In mid-October 2010, I got access to all the civil registration data films in Salt Lake City. I went directly to the third quarter of 1880 film and I went directly to the pages for the Union Hall local office. No Jeremiah Driscoll. But - there was a Jeremiah Cadogan, born to a Michael Cadogan and Johanna Collins Cadogan !

I searched the church records for any indication of a child born before Jeremiah and couldn't find anything. Further searches of birth films before 1880 so far have not uncovered any earlier children.

I went back and searched marriages in civil registration again, expanding the search back to 1870, considering Cadogan, and using all the Johanna permutations I could think of: Ann, Hannah, Nora, Hanora, Honora, Joan, Joanna, Jane, etc.

I even considered the idea that Johannah Collins was a widow prior to marrying Michael Driscoll and that Collins was her prior married name. So I took "Collins" off the search and tried again. Still no luck.

It's obvious that there is something really strange about this family that I just don't understand!

I examined the 1901 Russagh census record of the household where Noria's sister Juliann was living. James and Catherine Collins listed her as a niece. Another person in the Russagh household was son Michael.

Somehow, in the Irish births and baptisms (special collections), I found a Michael Collins born to James Collins and Catherine Driscoll in 1871. Further searching of the church records turned up more siblings, and importantly, that they were in Russagh.

Now, was Juliann a niece through Collins or through Driscoll?!? Or even both?!?

There is more to the story. In the online index, a death record kept popping up in 1903 for a 13 year old girl named Hanora Driscoll. Sure enough, it was the girl in Lissane in the 1901 census. Death by suffocation. Coroner R. Neville held an inquest 24-Feb-1903.

I searched the local news archives in the hopes there was was a story, but the drowning of Noria Driscoll was too insignificant an event to attract attention from the local paper, even though there were other drownings with inquests held by the same coroner about the same time. I emailed a few Ireland record places about old Cork inquest records, but nobody who knows anything has emailed me back.

How's that for a nice big brick wall?

In looking at the original 1901 Lissane household record that has Ellen Driscoll Collins and lists Noria as a niece, I can't help but wonder if perhaps her uncle Michael or aunt Noria, also in the household, were the ones who stated she was a niece and so 10 year old Noria should actually have been listed as a granddaughter rather than niece to Ellen Driscoll's husband Michael Collins, the head of the household. The perfect person, agewise, to have been 10 year old Noria's mother would have been the oldest daughter out of Lissane, Johanna, born 1856. Johanna could have married a Driscoll who may or may not have been a distant relative. Even if I knew all this to be fact, however, does not help me get over the problem of not being able to find critical records.

Fortunately, I have one other lead to discovering the identity of Ellen Driscoll Collins. Along with Driscoll baptismal sponsors to the children of Michael and Ellen were an Andrew Maguire and a Johanna Maguire. Those two names stand out like a beacon in Griffiths Valuation for Caheragh. Maguires are practically non-existent in the area but these people were in Gurrane (the west side of Caheragh). Fortunately, according to the same valuation, there are some Driscolls in next-door Cooranuller whose first names match those of the baptismal sponsors. I know when Ellen died, so I can guess when she was born (about 1830).

Skibbereen Heritage is working on it now.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

How I messed up looking for an ancestral record

I just went through a very frustrating experience with the GRO office in Roscommon, which was in large part my fault.  I thought I would mention what I did wrong here so others can avoid the same error.

My gg-grandmother's name was Mary McCarthy, and she died in the Skibbereen district.  Searching for anybody named "Mary McCarthy" is a major challenge, to say the least, and one I try to avoid as often as possible.  I wanted some confirmation of her age, so I'd have some idea as to where to start looking for her baptismal record.

All I knew was that she died some time after the 1911 census.  I (correctly) assumed she died in the home in Tooreen that had been her and her husband's (Cornelius McCarthy), then her son-in-law's (Humphrey Michael Collins), then oldest grandson's (Michael Humphrey Collins).  Since my Aunt Peg does not recall her death, I also (correctly) assumed Mary McCarthy died some time before Peg could remember (before 1929).  This narrowed down where to search civil registration to 1911-1929.  For good measure I went up to 1933, in case Aunt Peg for some reason didn't know about her g-grandmother's death.  I had a reason for doing this, as apparently there was some kind of rift between Grandmom and her brother-in-law Michael Humphrey Collins's wife, and it could have affected how the two families might have interacted.

This left over two dozen records to consider.  And I ended up ordering every one of them.

There were 26 possible records. I then expanded my thinking and considered the scenario that she had gone off to live elsewhere with one of her daughters. Even with that scenario, I was still able to easily eliminate 22 records.  Among the reasons - a son was present at death (Mary and Cornelius McCarthy had seven daughters, no surviving sons); she died in the Workhouse; the deceased was a spinster; she wasn't a widow (my gg-grandmother was); her occupation or her spouse's occupation was wrong (gg-granddad Cornelius was a farmer). In two records there was a daughter present at death, but I know the names of daughters who emigrated, so I felt those records weren't right either.  That left one record - the one I kept asking for and kept not getting.

GRO skipped over my gg-grandmother's death record.  The reason this happened was because there were two elderly ladies named Mary McCarthy who died in Skibbereen, four years apart in age, and in the same quarter and year.  This means they were in the same volume, and not only that but they also happened to be on the same page.  If you think about it, the two records will look almost identical.  Since they were on the same page, the two deaths were registered in the same local office, and probably written up by the same person, so the handwriting is the same.

And this is where I went wrong.  I should have noticed the multiple entries on the same page and called that out in my letters to GRO.  I had sent one letter specifying that she died in Tooreen, but that letter actually got lost in the mail.  Every time I asked for the other record on the page GRO kept sending back the erroneous one.

The Mormon Family History Library sent me an image of the index.  In an image editor I boxed in blue the index entry of the record I already had with the words ALREADY HAVE.  And then I boxed in red the index entry of the record I was missing, with the words NEED THIS ONE.  I enclosed that picture along with an explanation in my letter to GRO.

That did the trick.  I now have my gg-grandmother's death record.  But my joy at finding it was mixed with great annoyance, when I noticed that the record number (#379) was incrementally the one immediately following the one GRO kept sending back (#378).  Even in the Ireland Registry Office they can get confused.  One record can look exactly like another.

If you are searching for a very common name like Mary McCarthy, be aware of these pitfalls.  Make sure you keep all your record requests in a spreadsheet.  This will help you notice if you have multiple requests on the exact same page of the registry book.  And fill in all the information in your spreadsheet when you get back records.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fanlobbus Tithe Applotment Transcription (1826) now online

It's an initial draft and has not yet been proof-read and corrected by the local historian in Dunmanway helping me. He's working on it.

Other Skibbereen area tithe applotment transcriptions already online are for the parishes of Abbeystrowry, Caheragh, Drinagh and Dromdaleague.

Skibbereen area tithe applotment transcriptions

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

It's just the census, not gospel

I've been looking at a census record that has several errors on it and I thought it would be worthwhile pointing out the kinds of errors that were made.

The record in question is for a household named Donovan in the 1911 census in Ardagh East in the electoral district of Rosscarbery in Cork.

 James Donovan is listed as head of household, age 47.  According to his baptismal record, his age is off by two years, a relatively minor error.

Moving further to the right, he is listed as a farmer and single.  Then to the right of that, it shows he is married 50 years, had three children and three were still living.

A 47 year old man cannot be married 50 years.  Clearly that statistic belongs to the next person listed, his mother Johanna, age 78, a widow.

I know from researching my family that Johanna was Johanna Collins of Adrigole, and that she married John Donovan some time before June of 1852, when the first child I know about, Mary (Maria), was born.  I also know that they had at least seven children.

The next person in the household is Nora, listed as a daughter, age 35 (she was going on 42, going by her baptismal record).  She is listed as the daughter to the head of household, when she should be listed as his sister. The same applies to the next person, Maggie, age 36 (haven't located Maggie's baptismal).

The number of children born is listed as 3, which is erroneous.  James presumably didn't have children.  His mother gave birth to at least 7.  So where does that 3 come from?

In his 1915 obituary, at least five sisters were still alive to attend his funeral.  So the 3 in the 1911 census under the column for number of children still living is erroneous.

I had to rely on other sources (church records, Southern Star archives) to extract the right information out of this record.